O Come, O Come, Emmanuel! (12)

Although the humanity of Jesus may be the least contested of all Christian doctrines today, it is hardly the least significant. While He was no mere man, the Christian faith depends as surely on His being ‘very man’ as it does on his being ‘very God’. The two ascriptions which to the skeptic are, respectively, trivial and incredible, interlock inextricably in the mystery of the incarnation. There could be no incarnation without a Jesus who was divine, but it is no less necessary that Jesus was human. The Word was made flesh.

—Nigel M. de S. Cameron, Complete in Christ, 12

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel! (11)

He who is bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh ever lives as our High Priest who through the consummation of His self-sacrifice as the Lamb of God makes intercession for us. As such He is enthroned at the summit of all being as the reconciling center of all things visible and invisible. He is none the other than our Lord Jesus, the incarnation of the Love of God, into whom and around whom all things revolve in the revelation of God to humanity and humanity to God, whose Kingdom, as the Nicene Creed affirms, will have no end. 18

—Thomas F. Torrance, “The Christ Who Loves Us” in A Passion for Christ, 18

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel! (9)

A god and yet a man?
A maid and yet a mother?
Wit wonders what wit can
Conceive this or the other.

A god and can He die?
A dead man, can He live?
What wit can well reply?
What reason reason give?

God, truth itself, doth teach it.
Man’s wit sinks too far under
By reason’s power to reach it.
Believe and leave to wonder.

—15th Century anonymous poem

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel! (8)

Green leaves all fallen, withered and dry;
Brief sunset fading, dim winter sky;
Lengthening shadows,
Dark closing in…
Then, through the stillness, carols begin!

Oh fallen world, to you is the song!
Death holds you fast and night tarries long.
Jesus is born, your curse to destroy!
Sweet to your ears, a carol of Joy!

Pale moon ascending, solemn and slow;
Cold barren hillside, shrouded in snow;
Deep,empty valley, veiled by the night;
hear angel music–hopeful and bright!

Oh fearful world, to you is the song.
Peace with your God, and pardon for wrong.
Tidings for sinners, burdened and bound,
A carol of joy! A Savior is found!

Earth wrapped in sorrow, lift up your eyes!
Thrill to the chorus filling the skies.
Look up, sad-hearted.  Witness God’s love;
Join in the carol swelling above!

Oh friendless world, to you is the song!
All Heaven’s joy to you may belong!
You who are lonely, laden, forlorn:
Oh fallen, oh friendless world!
To you, a Saviour is born!

—Eileen Berry (and a beautiful choral setting by Dan Forrest)

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel! (7)

If Christmas time cannot ignite within us again something like a love for holy theology, so that we—captured and compelled by the wonder of the manger of the Son of God—must reverently reflect on the mysteries of God, then it must be that the glow of the divine mysteries has also been extinguished in our heart and has died out.

—Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel! (6)

Without the holy night, there is no theology. “God is revealed in flesh,” the God-human Jesus Christ—that is the holy mystery that theology came into being to protect and preserve. How we fail to understand when we think that the task of theology is to solve the mystery of God, to drag it down to the flat, ordinary wisdom of human experience and reason! Its sole office is to preserve the miracle as miracle, to comprehend, defend, and glorify God’s mystery precisely as mystery. This and nothing else, therefore, is what the early church meant when, with never flagging zeal, it dealt with the mystery of the Trinity and the person of Jesus Christ.

—Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas